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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘moment’

Thanksgiving

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

When I married my husband, I was surprised to learn that his family didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. His parents were Holocaust survivors, born and raised in Europe, threatened and nearly killed by the Nazis. They immigrated to the United States because anywhere, everywhere was better than Europe and the US was the first place that came through with enough visas for the brothers and sisters on both sides that had survived. Gone were the parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Each had lost siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors.

They were a generation cut off from their roots but not their future and the one thing they knew for sure was that their future would not be spent in Europe. As far as I know, the only other time they went back to Europe was on a personal “heritage” tour in which they went with my sister-in-law and at one place, were met with a woman and a knife because she thought they had come to take her home – the one she had stolen from my father-in-law’s family – away from her.

It was the United States of America that accepted them, welcomed them, and gave them a secure place to raise their children. They accepted many things from their new homeland, but not this holiday of Thanksgiving. For them, as Orthodox Jews, thanksgiving was something you gave every day, not once a year, they explained to me (as others have as well).

In practice, the concept of thanking God is so ingrained in the Jewish religion that it is the first words we speak each morning – Modeh Ani -

מוֹדֶה (מוֹדָה) אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ מֶֽלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּים. שֶׁהֶֽחֱזַֽרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמֽוּנָתֶֽךָ I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

I tried to explain to them that for me Thanksgiving was about family – it was the chance to gather everyone close on a day that was not Shabbat, when Jews are unable to travel, use electricity, and generally stay close to home.

So, each year, most years, we made a Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family. When we moved to Israel, we made a few dinners with American friends, but for the most part, the tradition fell away. It’s been years since I did it. Until Lauren came into our lives and asked about the holiday.

I decided this year to make a turkey and invite my parents and my sister – her children, my children. And then, Israel went…well, as it turns out, not really to war but into Operation Pillar of Defense. Elie was called in and I wasn’t sure what to do. I decided that whatever Lauren wanted, we’d do and so I asked. I think she was surprised that I asked – hadn’t considered canceling. You don’t cancel Thanksgiving, after all – it’s there. And so my husband picked up the turkey, I stuffed it and cooked it. Lauren made pumpkin pie and a delicious soup – and my parents and my sister and one of her kids (and her fiance, who is also named Elie), came.

And though he didn’t make it in time for dinner – but rather time enough to grab leftovers and eat them straight off the plate as a happy Lauren packed him food – Elie came home.

Thanksgiving is a time – one time along with every day and every minute of your life that you should stop and give thanks. Some families go around the table and have everyone say one thing for which they are grateful. That’s not something we have ever done, but perhaps we should.

I am so very grateful, God, that You brought my son home safely. I’m grateful for the rain that pours down on this land at this moment, and even for the thunder and lightning. I am grateful for the land in which I live; that we are able to defend ourselves as we were not able to do when my in-laws lived and nearly died in Europe.

I am so very grateful for the blessings in my life – my husband, my children, my grandson, the three that have married my children to form families of their own. I am grateful to the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who answered the call without hesitation -in staggering numbers and with staggering efficiency. They rushed to answer the call – out of love and dedication.

Title: Alone in Africa

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Author: Avigail Sharer
Publisher: Israel Bookshop Publications

Alone in Africa, by Avigail Sharer, is an original adventure story about three siblings named Nesanel, Penina and Chezky Feiner, who are, well, alone in Africa. Except they aren’t entirely alone – they have animals and two battling African tribes to keep them company.

It all started when the three Feiner kids were flying from home in London without their parents to visit their grandparents in South Africa. The airport-provided chaperon was a rookie teenager who didn’t know what to do when the airplane made an emergency landing in the jungle. The kids became separated from the other passengers, who were driven away by military Jeeps to the airport. That is how they became “alone in Africa.”

They were found by an African tribe named the Lulu was who thought that Nesanel was a prophet named Gift of G-d. The other children escaped, but Nesanel was kept. When Nesanel attempted to escape, his plan was foiled when he was captured by a different African tribe named the Bakayas, who were at war with the Luluwas. There was a rescue attempt by Penina and Chezky, but was it successful?

I liked Alone in Africa for a number of reasons. The plot was fast-paced and full of twists and turns; at one moment they were wandering through the jungle, the next moment they were captured. My personal favorite part of this book was the idea of a non-poisonous, poisonous frog (when you read it you’ll know). The story is also very informative about survival skills. I would recommend Alone in Africa to potential jungle explorers of ages 9-10 who are ready to tackle a chapter book of over 230 pages.

The Fascinating Life of Our First Matriarch

Friday, November 9th, 2012

From the moment she is introduced as Avraham’s young bride (Bereshit 11: 29,30,31) till her death in this week’s Torah portion appropriately titled Chayei Sarah — The Life of Sarah , the fascinating image of our first matriarch is the subject of many intriguing Midrashic commentaries.

The verse (Bereshit 11:29) that introduces Sarah also introduces Yiskah, the daughter of Haran, giving rise to a Rabbinic interpretation, which identifies Yiskah with Sarah. Sarah was also called Yiskah, Chazal say, because everyone who beheld her “would gaze” (yiskeh) at her beauty (Megillah 14a), an extraordinary gift that she retained till the end of her days (Bereshit Rabba 40:4). According to another Rabbinic commentary, Sarah was so beautiful that all other people “were like monkeys” by comparison (Bava Basra 58a), while another Midrash claims that even Avishag the Shunamite, the archetype of Biblical beauty, never “achieved even half of Sarah’s charm” (Sanhedrin 39b). In a summation of her life Chazal further elaborate on the theme of 127 -year-old Sarah’s physical and spiritual beauty and assure us that she was as pure at the age of one hundred as a seven-year-old and as beautiful as a twenty-year old.

Sarah’s identity with Yiskah based on the root “sacho”(see), has prompted an additional interpretation by Chazal that besides beauty, Sarah possessed the gift of prophetic “vision” which enabled her to “see” by means of the Holy Spirit (Megillah. 14a).

As a matter-of-fact, Sarah’s visionary gifts surpassed even those of Avraham (Shemot Rabba 1:1), and it was for this reason that Avraham was admonished:

Our Sages teach that the Almighty heard Sarah’s prayer for deliverance from Pharaoh’s clutches, and sent an angel to whip the Egyptian king at her command when her extraordinary beauty caused her abduction to the latter’s palace (Bereshit Rabba 41:2). It was on this occasion that, intimidated by Divine punishment on her account, Pharaoh presented to Sarah the land of Goshen as her personal possession and his daughter Hagar as her handmaid (Bereshit Rabba 45). This is how it came about that Bnei Yisrael dwelt in Goshen during their sojourn in Egypt; it was their inheritance through our Matriarch Sarah.

Our Matriarch Sarah’s original name was Sarai, and it was only later with the assumption of their divine mission that the letter “h” from the Divine Name was added. Avram became Avraham and Sarai became Sarah. From Midrashic literature we learn that Sarai meant “a princess to her own people,” but when her name was changed to Sarah, she became a “princess to all mankind” (Bereshit Rabba 47:1). In this capacity she shared Avraham’s mission to spread the faith in one G-d – while Avraham converted the men, Sarah converted the women.

Besides her gifts of beauty, prophecy, wisdom and leadership, Chazal attribute to Sarah great spiritual and material blessings. “As long as Sarah lived,” Bereshit Rabba reveals, “there was a light burning from one Shabbat eve to the next; and there was a blessing in the dough; and a cloud was hovering over the tent. And when she died – they ceased.” (Idem.). And yet, Sarah’s greatest merit was Avraham’s heeding her admonishment and his decision based on her advice — removing from his household Yishmael and with him, Yishmael’s deleterious influence.

I believe this was perhaps the most important achievement in the life of Sarah and her most far-reaching historical move.

The Most Beautiful Picture of Israelis Ever Shot

Friday, November 9th, 2012

The two men in this picture are Chief of Operations for the Southern Front Yitzhak Rabin and Southern Front Commander Yigal Allon, in 1949. It’s a cold day somewhere on the dunes east or south of Gaza. Neither man has slept much, which is evident from Rabin’s messy hair.

Alon, four years older and considered deeper than his lieutenant, is looking at Rabin with a kind of fatherly gaze. The burden of war, the weariness of daily engagements, are evident in their posture. Neither one looks particularly happy or even content.

But it’s a beautiful picture in my eyes, because it depicts a moment so suffused with potential in our history. There’s the thinker, Alon, and Rabin, an anti-intellectual if ever there was one, and at that frozen moment in time you can’t yet tell that all their efforts to lead the Jewish experience in the Land of Israel to a benign, normal, familiar, civilized conclusion would crash, one after the other, against the harsh realities of the Middle East.

Neither one of them was a fool, neither one was kidding himself that our neighbors are bursting with joy at the idea of accepting, much less embracing us into their midst. Both died having done everything humanly possible, including countless times putting their lives on the line, seeking that acceptance.

There is beauty in failure. It is quiet, hidden, humble. The beauty of two young men in the middle of a battle outside Gaza, hair blowing in the wind, eyes red from lack of sleep, daring to hope.

The boys and girls of my generation have grown up with that image emblazoned in our retinas as the best that an Israeli person could be.

I’m glad that phase is over. I’m looking forward to images of new, beautiful Israelis, like the famous young paratrooper at the Kotel in 1967. Or, better yet, a young windsurfer at the Olympic games. I’m totally open to suggestions.

Women Dominate Israeli Courts and Public Legal Sector

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

In Israel, it pays to be a woman if you want to get ahead as legal clerk, lawyer or judge.

In a quiet revolution, women have begun to outnumber men in the Israeli legal profession, and while, for the moment, there are still more active lawyers who are men (28,231) than women (22,670), that gap is quickly closing.

Here are some numbers that may surprise you:

New graduating lawyers: 54% women (1128), 46% men (961). (Source: Israel Bar Association)

Ministry of Justice employees: 69% women (2564), 31% men (1145) (Source: Ministry of Justice)

Court Presidents: 71.5% women (15), 28.5% men (6) (Source: Court Spokesperson)

Judges appointed in 2011: 51% women (321), 49% men (305)

Soon men may need to demand affirmative action if they want to move up in the legal world.

So where does it still pay to be a man?

The last holdout where men still outnumber women is that of partners in the top private Israeli law firms, where men make up 73% of the partners compared to the women’s 27% (Source: Dun and Bradstreet).

The other last bastion of male control is of course as Rabbinical Court judges.

But not to worry, women are working to take those over too.

Barbra Does Brooklyn

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Brooklyn’s hometown girl wowed fans at Barclays Center during her  “Back to Brooklyn” tour.

Belting out tunes at the age of 70, Barbra Streisand regaled 18,000 attendees on Thursday night for almost 3 hours with songs and memories of Brooklyn and gratitude for the city of her birth.

“I left Brooklyn to pursue my dreams. Brooklyn never quite left me,” she said.

Streisand hit the high notes and evoked nostalgia with over two dozen songs including classis such as “People”, “The Way We Were”, and “Evergreen”.

According to Streisand, the last performance she conducted in Brooklyn was in 1979.

Streisand also took a moment to make a statement about the upcoming US presidential elections.

“I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but … if you believe in affordable health care and women’s rights … if you want to move forward and not back, you know who to vote for,” she said.

Latest Blood Libel: Iranians Accusing Israel of Developing Race-Specific WMDs

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Here are the first three paragraphs of what appears to be a completely serious news report that appeared on Tuesday and is still up on the website of PressTV. It’s been there since this morning.

UK, Israel seeking to develop SARS-like race-specific bio-weapon Tue Oct 9, 2012 4:36AM GMT

British and Zionist health experts are working on a SARS-like race-specific bio-weapon, which could be capable of creating a global threat through triggering a massive ethnic cleansing, it has been claimed.

The claim was made following the identification by the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new SARS-like race-specific virus that targets people of Middle Eastern decent. The original SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) resulted in the death of numerous people in Hong Kong.

The Zionist-led Israeli regime has been seeking to spot specific genes carried by human of Arab decent in an attempt to develop a race-specific bio-weapon that could covertly be exposed to Arab populations in order to commit a massive ethnic cleansing whenever necessary.

Ignore for the moment the rank racism, the poor spelling (“by human of Arab decent”), the childish form of expression, the absence of any basis for the wild and irresponsible allegations (“it has been claimed“; “according to intelligence sources“). Ignore that it more or less repeats (without attribution) something that appeared on an over-the-edge website a few days prior.

Just focus, for a moment, on the comments published under the article on the PressTV site. As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 27 published comments, almost all of them proceeding on the assumption that the report is true, and 75 “likes.” The story went up Tuesday, so by the time you check, there are certain to be more.

If it was not already obvious, we have arrived at the point where people are ready to swallow the most extravagant charges against Israel - anything, with or without an explanation, no matter how fanciful or outrageous. These commenters are probably not the brightest bulbs in the box, but in times as dangerous as these, when mobs don’t just get noisy but actually kill innocent people, there’s no requirement for them to have normal intelligence in order to cause harm.

And before anyone wants to dismiss the news channel as marginal, a word about PressTV. It calls itself

the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English on a round-the-clock basis. Our global Tehran-based headquarters is staffed with outstanding Iranian and foreign media professionals. Press TV is extensively networked with bureaus located in the world’s most strategic cities.

PressTV is owned and operated by the government of Iran, via the state-owned media corporation Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) [source]. Its current presenters include Lauren Booth, gaffe-prone sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair and thoroughly loose cannon; and George Galloway, the inflammatory British parliamentarian. FARS, another Iranian media channel with a name that sounds like what it often is, and Iran English Radio are both currently echoing the PressTV report. Someone in the Iranian regime clearly wants this story to get traction. Sadly, that is very likely to happen.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/this-ongoing-war/latest-blood-libel-iranians-accusing-israel-of-developing-race-specific-wmds/2012/10/11/

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